I recently found your blog post entitled “Inherently Dangerous,” and I believe it was written to me about my views on gun control, views which I know are the polar opposite of yours. If your blog post wasn’t about me, feel free to disregard this, and please pardon my vanity! If it is indeed written about me and my beliefs, first off, let me please thank you for the time that you spent crafting your post. Regardless of the disparity between our viewpoints, the only outcomes of civil, constructive debate like we are engaged in are a better understanding of each other and a greater opportunity to learn from one another. Second, thank you for considering me to be very intelligent! That is not often a compliment I receive, so I really appreciate it when I do. I will be responding in letter form, compared to the op-ed style piece you wrote, which is much more eloquent, I might add. I’ll address each point individually, in order as they appear in your post.
First things first, I will start off by agreeing with you – I do understand what you want to tell me and what you’ve already told me, and I admire your extremely opposite position, because like you, I do believe the only way gun violence can truly be ended is if all guns are removed from public access. More about that below.
I am indeed guilty of casually posting easier to digest memes that espouse my beliefs, without doing my homework first. I too add to the noise that so many resent on Facebook, because it’s easy. It may not be right, but like you mention, I’m tired of being blamed for the various massacres that have occurred in recent years across our nation. But I can do better, and I should do better.
I would like to clarify, or question rather, your critique of one article I shared at some point in the last several months from the Washington Times. You mention turning a blind eye to authors of articles, or the publications of those articles, and refer to this Times article that posits that books and ideas are more dangerous than guns. You seem to take this concept in the most literal form, which we both know is not how that concept is intended, nor has been since it was first penned in 1839 in its original form, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” What I don’t understand is why you disagree with what I assumed to be a widely accepted fact, that man’s ability to put pen to paper is often more dangerous than the weapons he makes.
Mein Kampf. The Nuremberg Laws. Order No. 227. The Soviet Five-Year Plan. The 9/11 Commission. The 16th Amendment. The Controlled Substances Act. Each were products of pen put to paper. Each were far more inherently dangerous than the weapons of their respective times.
I admit, I haven’t spent much time doing my homework on your political beliefs, but I realize that it must have been much easier to assume mine, given the frequency of my posts and the infrequency of yours. This helps to confirm one of my dreaded suspicions; that I am an “over sharer” which I assume can’t be a good thing in today’s day and age. Now, seeing as how you identify as a democratic socialist, I can assume that there are likely many more issues that we hold opposite opinions on, but I always remind myself that your viewpoints are held only with the most innate desire for peace and prosperity for our nation, as well as the world. I was raised conservative, but have moved into the libertarian mindset a few years after moving off to college; typical, right? I hold many Christian beliefs, but I try to keep most of them out of my political viewpoints, as I believe that just as our Creator endowed us free will, our government should as well (i.e. whatever floats your boat, as long as it doesn’t sink mine). I hope that helps clear a few more things up.
Regarding the video that proposes the four cardinal firearms rules as the best answer to decreasing gun violence, I can see how it comes across as crass. I think in some regards, however, that the commentator intends it that way, likely attempting to point out that in the past, more in this nation had a closer relationship with firearms, and therefore a deeper understanding and respect for their power. Instead, guns are viewed by our news media as the bane of our modern existence, while Hollywood simultaneously glorifies them and profits endlessly from films, TV shows, and video games that depict violent acts more gruesomely today than ever before. More on that later.
You are correct, those four firearms rules wouldn’t have stopped the Santa Fe shooter, but as you also agreed, that horrible event would have been prevented had the irresponsible father of the shooter locked up his guns, effectively barring his son’s access to them. One must also wonder how much that father taught his son to respect firearms and to only ever use them as a means of self-defense. One thing that the four firearms rules assume in order to maintain relative safety around guns, is that other laws already put into place by our government are to be followed and, here’s the kicker, enforced. Had local law enforcement agencies (at least three of which I’m aware of) reported even one of the 32 documented complaints and citations about him to the NICS, the Parkland shooter never would have been able to buy a gun, let alone inflict the damage he did that day.
Now, let’s jump into the Australia Model discussion. Your math is mind-boggling, only because I’m awful at math and have a difficult time following, but I don’t dispute your figures, and I won’t ever dispute when someone draws the correlation between the number of guns in a country vs. the number of gun deaths in that country. Like you point out, it’s simple math: more guns equals more gun deaths. Period. End of story.
I do have some numbers of my own, however: 500,000 to 3,000,000 – that is the range of defensive gun uses (DGUs) every year in the US, found in a study ordered by the CDC under the Obama administration. Applying the average of this range over the last 10 years brings us to well over 17 million DGUs, compared with 4.3 million violent crimes (murders, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults) over the same period. This leaves one to wonder how many more violent crimes would have occurred if the populace was left unarmed? How many more could have been prevented if the victims were properly trained on how to use a firearm and carried one on their person? Furthermore, are the lives saved by these DGUs less important than the 1,091 lives lost in mass shootings in the US since 1966? Also, forget not that over 98% of mass shootings occur in gun-free zones.
Let’s bring this down to a smaller scale. I carry a gun daily, to prevent myself and anyone around me from becoming a victim of violent crime. If you (not actually you. You're a decent human being) move to put me or anyone around me in imminent danger of serious bodily harm or death, I will do everything in my power to shoot or otherwise incapacitate you in order to end the threat that you pose. If that results in your death, so be it. This is why I agree with you when you say more guns equal more gun deaths. But that’s the thing no one seems to realize: in an armed nation, violent criminals will be injured or die by the guns the citizenry defend themselves with, and rightly so. If you play stupid games, you win stupid prizes. We live in a dangerous world with criminals who like to play those stupid games, just like generations before us.
We all know that local law enforcement budgets aren’t where they should be in this country, nor does it appear their competency is, either. Why then would we want to forcibly disarm a populace that is already equipped and motivated to defend themselves, and even encouraged to be? We know that criminals are violent, and that won’t ever change. If our police take an average of seven minutes to respond to a call, what exactly are the defenseless citizenry supposed to do in the meantime? But I digress . . . back to the Australian model.
I have several problems with the Australian model, though. First, it sought to ban semi-automatic rifles and repeating shotguns, which, in the US in 2015, accounted for less than 3% (all types of rifles) and less than 4% (all types of shotguns) of firearms-related homicides. That leaves handguns to account for over 90% of firearms related homicides per year, which are legal in Australia.
Over the 22 years after this ban, cloaked as a “buy back,” was enacted, only one third of Australia’s firearms have been turned in to the government, which obviously leaves a whopping 66% still in civilian hands. If we were to replicate this same outcome in the US, we’d be left with over 214 million firearms still in civilian hands. And gun violence still occurs in Australia. The only way to truly eradicate gun violence is to eradicate gun ownership, which, we’ve proven, isn’t possible. Going further down this line of thought, who exactly do you think would decide to follow such a law? This may sound like an old argument, but criminals don’t exactly follow laws, and those who keep and carry firearms for nefarious purposes aren’t going to stop just because the government spontaneously asks them to. So taking the first step in this mission to be more like Australia instantly puts good, law-abiding citizens at an even higher disadvantage to the criminals that prey on them. You have given the bad guys the upper hand here.
My second problem with the Australian model is the complete difference in our cultures. While almost all developed nations are growing racially and ethnically diverse, I don’t find it wise to compare ourselves with Australia, considering our cultures are completely different. They never had a slave culture or a civil rights movement anywhere near the scale of ours. They don’t have a host of nations to the south whose people flee to our border en masse in search of the American Dream. They also don’t have the tensions that stem from each of these. Australia is not one of the few superpowers of the world. Australia did not create a government of the people, by the people, and for the people that the rest of the world followed as an example, which leads me to my third problem.
My third problem with the Australian model has to do with the origins of our two nations, which have since led to our current statuses on the world’s stage: one of us is a free, sovereign nation; the other is a commonwealth of the English crown. We both know the history of America’s fight for independence from the British, so I’ll refrain from rehashing that story. I will say, however, that the Australian people never needed to defeat the largest military power the world had ever seen in the name of self-governance. Guns weren’t central to that struggle, because Australia never struggled like we did. Australians are subjects, and always have been. We, Americans, are not. You are as sovereign a citizen as I am, and while I think that idea has gotten lost in our collective psyche in Modern America, I take immense pride in it. Some may take my perspective as “American Exceptionalism” and, to a certain extent, I’ll agree with them. I do believe America is exceptional; we started the whole “revolution” and “democracy” thing, and as I said before, one by one the nations we all came from followed suit.
This brings us around to your final critique of my beliefs, which you ironically spend the least amount of words on: the Second Amendment. You believe “the whole goddamn thing goes off the rails” when the 2nd Amendment to the Bill of Rights, an amendment so important that the Founders of the Constitution only thought that the right to free speech was more important, is mentioned in a gun control debate, and, while I know we’ve discussed this in the past, I still find that to be shocking. It enrages me that this is becoming a more widely-held viewpoint. I know you’re smart enough to understand why our forefathers sought to protect the people’s right to be armed – they saw how cruel and oppressive power becomes, and knew that the only way to keep such power in check is for the people to remain a constant threat to that power. I believe Thomas Jefferson put it best in 1825 when he wrote to William Short, “Some are whigs, liberals, democrats, call them what you please. Others are tories, serviles, aristocrats. The latter fear the people, and wish to transfer all power to the higher classes of society; the former consider the people as the safest depository of power in the last resort; they cherish them therefore, and wish to leave in them all the powers to the exercise of which they are competent.” Again, I know you can comprehend why Jefferson saw the dangers of a select few gaining power over the people and wished to give the people a means of keeping their power in check. Why this is such an “off the rails” concept to understand completely befuddles me.
This is the cause I have chosen to fight for. Some choose the abortion fight, others the environment, or foreign policy, etc. I appreciate you bringing other examples of government overreach to my attention, but I’m in the middle of fighting against one right now, and it’s eating away at a fundamental right recognized by the founding document of our country, not granted by the government that runs it. I shouldn’t have to be kept busy fighting to maintain my rights when there are other big fish to fry.
I hope you can now see how my mind works at its core, sans context, and that you’ve come to your own conclusions, instead of trying to correct the conclusions you’ve already come to. Either way, let’s keep doing this, because I too believe it will finally start to get us somewhere.